Thursday, May 29, 2008

Isn't this cute? (updated)

I think I'm getting better at presentation. For example, this is my latest gift package of burp cloths. Cute, yes?

Would you mind being a test group for me, dear readers? Let's say you were buying a set of these for a new mother. What would you consider paying? $10? $12? $14? This particular package is a set of two custom burp cloths, made of washable ribbon on Chinese prefold cloth diapers (chosen due to their superior absorbency).

Alternatively, would you rather have three burp cloths in a set? And if you wanted three, what would you consider a reasonable price: $13? $15? $17?

Please do let me know in the comments - I really value your feedback as I'm working on this business.

Oh, and I have business cards now! Aren't they nice? I think they turned out quite well. Some people have asked for them to give out to friends, and now I have plenty - so if you would like some please just let me know and I'll mail them to you!

And as always, if you want to order something, you can contact me personally or find my items at Lullaby Slings.

(Updated to take out the visible address on the card. Thanks, Jess, for pointing that out!)

Small injuries

Jonathan fell down this morning and slightly skinned both knees. He sniffled a bit and sat on my lap, but after a few minutes brushed himself off and stood up. "Well," he said, "I can't kneel anymore, but I think my brain still works."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


There is a baby up in heaven today. She wasn't mine, but I loved her and I prayed for her and I wanted her to be mine. Her mother listened to the devil's whispers and believed the lie of the "easy way out". Just some tissue, just a problem to be taken care of. Over in a few hours. I ask God to care for this little one, and I know that he will. I want to ask him for forgiveness for the mother, but I'm not enough like Christ to do that yet. I can't even think about forgiveness for the doctor.

Little one, you are so loved. Be safe in the arms of Jesus.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I need a manageable number of good ideas

Specifically, I need ideas for fun things to do with Jonathan during our mostly-daily preschool time. I've given up looking for ideas online, because the result is a massive overload of ideas, as well as lots of guilt for not being more creative/loving/involved/crafty/etc. The problem with not looking up new ideas, however, is that I've become bored with the ones we're currently cycling through. I'm looking for things that can be finished in about 20 minutes or so, and that don't take a ton of prep and/or cleanup. Also, I am TERRIBLE at crafts. So keep 'em simple, please.

And please, please, please don't direct me to a website, no matter how wonderful, that has ten million ideas all in one place. Seriously, I just can't handle it. :)


Jenni at One Thing has written a beautiful meditation on nursing infants and our response to God's feeding. Take a few moments and savor it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Not-so-little things

I'm in the process of applying for Cal-COBRA health insurance. This has been a headache from the first, particularly since we didn't expect to need to pay for it! After a month, however, we've made some decisions and figured out what we need to do, and Gabe faxed the paperwork in yesterday. I called this morning, just to be sure that the fax had gone through and check if there was anything else I needed to do to make the process go smoothly. There is an early June deadline for squaring it all away, so we really don't want any surprises this late in the game.

I talked to a lovely woman named Veronica, who assured me that she had our application there, and directed me to call back about payment on Tuesday when our information would have been entered into the computer. I thanked her and hung up. About an hour later, Veronica called me back, asking for clarification regarding Thomas' coverage. Given the track record of our insurance company, this is nothing short of miraculous. Ten minutes on the phone resulted in the realization that the paper she had in front of her was NOT the same one we had faxed yesterday, and she was able to track down the correct paperwork. She's entering us into the system right now, and I feel such relief that someone who cared enough to check on a discrepancy is working on our file.

It's a little thing. Only it isn't little at all - because it could have been another employee and we might not have found out about the problem until it was too late. I'd rather not have to deal with the COBRA headache at all, but since we do, I'm glad to know that God is watching over us even in these little and not-so-little things.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I really ought to live in Oregon or Washington. My day got so much brighter when the storm rolled in! :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Worth supporting

Have you heard about Mercy Ministries? Mercy is a worldwide charity that runs homes for girls in crisis. Girls struggling with eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, sexual abuse, depression, or unplanned pregnancies can come to these homes free of charge to get help that is firmly grounded in Christ.

As far as I know, only Mercy currently offers this, and it is oh, so very needed.

When I was in college, I had some friends with troubles like these. One of them went (with family support and insurance coverage) to a center that charged something like $1000 a day. From what I could tell, it helped, but not entirely. Another went to Mercy, free of charge, and came back transformed. She had some difficulty transitioning back into the "real world", but overall I was blown away by the change in her life. (Mercy has since improved their transitional care services.)

I've been supporting Mercy Ministries ever since, in thanksgiving for her life and in hopeful prayer for those girls who will be helped in the future.

And now, I am so excited to hear that a California home is nearly complete and scheduled to open by the end of this year!!! Every home that opens means fewer girls on the waiting list and more getting the help they need. And a home on the west coast means that it will be that much easier for girls who live here to get help (moving to Tennessee from California is rather a big deal!) Mercy is hoping to be able to remain debt free while finishing building the California home. Would you consider making a donation to help in this endeavor? You can also become a monthly ministry partner, or choose to sponsor a specific girl in need.

The need is great, and Mercy is doing an incredible job meeting that need and covering it with the love of Christ.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some days

Some days are not so great. Today is one of them.

1) I found out this morning that my voice students are going to be gone all summer. This wouldn't be so bad except that it is the third in a string of difficulties that have cropped up. The first was switching from a payment to a barter system. The second was a long and unanticipated "vacation" from lessons due to illness on both sides and a trip out of town. Today was the first week back (to normal, I thought) and it turns out that I've only got two weeks to work with them before they stop for two months. Meanwhile I'll be getting more and more pregnant and less than two months after they return I'll have a new baby to juggle, and I just don't know how I'll pull this off. It is disappointing and frustrating because I LOVE teaching these girls. It is something I look forward to every week and I'm sad that it isn't working out very well right now.

2) I'm tired of being tired. I want my energy back! To do homemaking the way I want to, I need to be able to devote time to my children (including specific time for preschool, play, and reading out loud), and errands, and home upkeep chores, and "extras" like gardening, sewing, and working on photo albums. Ideally I'd be able to find a balance between these, and there have been a few times when I felt like it was happening. Like, oh, right before I got pregnant with Thomas. And, well, right before I got pregnant with this little boy. Sigh. Pregnancy derails my best efforts, every time, and for at least 15 months!

I do think that my priorities at least are in order. I do a darn good job taking care of the kids. Today we had breakfast, cleaned up a bit, did some laundry, played outside, I taught voice lessons, we had lunch, watered the garden, played with playdough, and read books. I'm not at all a failure at the mothering part of life right now - it just seems like this is the sum total that I can actually manage, and it is SUCH. HARD. WORK. to make that much happen.

So when 2pm comes, and I think "ok, now I can tackle that list of things I've been meaning to do or need to do or want to do..." and then somehow I end up crashing onto the couch or my bed or (worse) slouching at the computer pretending to get something done and actually just putzing and making myself feel worse.

The fact is that I'm tired, and I don't want to be tired. I want to somehow find or create the energy needed to do those chores that have been nagging me for the past week, because I will be happier when they are done. I'd like to pull the sewing machine out and actually finish that baby blanket I've been pseudo-working-on for the past month, except that it sounds like so much effort to do it! I did finally finish the photo project I'd been working on (isn't it amazing what you can do when you suddenly have a deadline! Seriously, the tyranny of the urgent!) :) I've also been meaning to take a hard look at our "schedule" (read: very loose routine!) and change some things, but do you have any idea how daunting that sounds when you already feel like you can't meet the demands of the current one?

3) I seem to be having another skirmish in the battle with my perception of food and weight. I like food, and I can certainly enjoy special things like the birthday dinner I had last night, but day to day eating is becoming hard again. I rather wish someone would just hand me a daily menu and say "follow these rules and eat these specific things." As it is, I spend far too much time mentally arguing back and forth over whether I'm really hungry, and if I am, what I ought to be eating, and wouldn't it just be better to skip this snack because remember that the scale is going up quite a bit faster than 1 lb a week...and by the time this argument has played out I'm feeling sick from a blood sugar crash and nothing healthy sounds good anyway.

See? Some days are just bad days. But I'm going to remember that I have two more happy weeks of voice lessons, and that if the house isn't clean at least we read "What's Wrong, Little Pookie?" six times today. And I'm going to go take a look at that schedule plan after all. And I'm going to talk to my midwife about food. Maybe she'll make that menu for me. :) The laundry will get done, and tonight we'll sing lullabies to our boys (all three of them!) and life will look brighter in the morning.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shutterfly happiness

I've spent the past few days working on finishing Thomas' first year photo book, as well as uploading digital photos that I wanted to print through Shutterfly. I was in a hurry because they have a free shipping promotion going on (it is going on through midnight tonight, if you want to stay up late and take advantage of it!)

Before I submitted my order, I checked RetailMeNot to see if there were some other coupon codes available. There were! I ended up using FOUR coupon codes (Shutterfly lets you stack offers!) and paid $30 for an order that originally totaled $60.

If you want to see an online copy of the photo book, send me an email (or comment) and I'll send you a link. It turned out beautifully.

(No, they aren't paying me for this little "advertisement". :) I just really like their products, and I really like their discounts!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


For some time now I've been thinking about taking the boys with me to a mid-week mass. I've done it before, periodically: once when I was very pregnant with Jonathan and once with him in tow. I believe both were part of Lenten disciplines. I remember being glad that I'd gone, and liking the new structure to my week, and realizing that receiving the sacrament of Christ's body and blood more frequently really did make a difference in my daily life with Jesus. But somehow the discipline never stuck. The first time I had a baby at the end of Lent, and everything went out the window. I don't remember why I didn't stick with it the second time, although I imagine that changing nap schedules probably had something to do with it.

It is always something, isn't it? There is always something perfectly reasonable that makes it difficult to make time for Jesus.

Anyway, this past Lent I thought about adding a mid-week mass, but I didn't. The only one that didn't interrupt nap schedules was Tuesday morning, and Tuesday is my errand day. More specifically, Tuesday is my grocery shopping day, which isn't something easily skipped. I couldn't figure out how to get to mass and two grocery stores and whatever other errands always seem to crop up. Still, the nagging thought remained. Not only is it good for me to go to church more often, but mid-week masses are perfect teaching opportunities for Jonathan. They are short services that he can be expected to sit through; we all sit in the choir loft up front so he can see exactly what is happening and be more involved in it; it is a small group of parishioners and no one seems to mind my whispered explanations.

I'm sure you get the picture by now: I know exactly what I ought to do, but it just seems so hard!

And so we come to this morning. I had laid out a carefully planned route of errands. The thrift store, the recycle center, Henry's Marketplace, and Ralphs. With no dawdling and a little luck, I could get them all done between Thomas' morning nap and Jonathan's afternoon nap, and use a minimal amount of gas to do it all.

Thomas slept later than I expected, so we got on the road later than I had hoped. Still, I thought we could do it if I pushed Jonathan's nap a little later than usual. It would work. All our gear was stashed in the car - thrift donations, recycles, lunch, snacks, toys - and we were off. As I drove toward the freeway I noticed the time: 11:21am. Mass started in nine minutes.

I did not want to go to mass. I was seriously annoyed that I had even noticed that it was possible.

"I don't have time, God. This very carefully planned trip will completely fall apart if I don't stick to the schedule."
"Emily, go to mass."
"I can't, God, don't you understand how tricky it is to fit everything in between naps?"
"I do. Go to mass. It will be ok."
"There is no way I can get to the grocery stores if I do this."
"That's ok. Go to mass."
"But I'm trying so hard to be a good steward of our gas money, and I planned the trip so carefully, and now you're asking me to just scrap it all and let the chips fall where they may?"

At this point we were on the freeway, on our way either to church or the thrift shop, depending on the exit I chose. And Jonathan piped up, "Oh Mommy, are we going to church?!"

I sighed and headed for church.

I'm so glad that I did. The boys were angels during the service. Jonathan paid attention and copied my kneeling and standing during the prayers. Thomas was thrilled that we were seated right next to the Christ the King crucifix - he kept pointing to it and grinning and saying "Jee-da!" And somehow, instead of feeling frustrated and stressed by this derailment of my day, I found myself peaceful and prayerful and glad. During a prayer where we offer up our "sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving" I mentally added, "and obedience, God. This morning is for you."

It is for him, you know. I don't have ownership over my time and my plans, although I generally think I do. They belong to God, and if he asks me to change them, or even just drop everything to come to mass, then it is my job to obey.

And such obedience often brings lovely blessings. No, I didn't get the grocery shopping done. No, I don't know when I'll do it. But instead of a hurried, stressful morning, we had a relaxed, pleasant morning. After mass we went over to Starbucks, just for the fun of it. The boys ate whipped cream off a straw and I ignored the clock and just enjoyed my two beautiful boys. They aren't impediments to my life, although sometimes it feels that way when I'm trying to fit things in around their naps - they are priceless gifts. Taking time to just look at them and enjoy their smiles was exactly what I should have done this morning. We did go to the thrift store, where I dropped off our donations and picked out two pairs of shorts for the boys, a dress shirt for Gabe, a Sandra Boynton board book, and maternity pants and shorts for me, all for less than $20. I think God was smiling on us, don't you? :) And we did get the recycling dropped off before heading home. Now the boys are having much-needed naps, and I'm blogging because I want to remember today. Obedience doesn't always make sense. But it is always the right thing to do, and sometimes it brings unexpected beauty instead of just unexpected inconvenience.

Lord, thank you for your persistent nudging today. Help me always to be obedient.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Baptism Celebration!

We celebrated Jonathan's baptism this evening. A day early, but the logistics worked out much better this way!

First, he helped decorate. We spread a lace tablecloth, filled vases with red flowers, and then took apart a few of the flowers to make petals. Jonathan thought this was lots of fun.

He got to toss the petals across the table, with splendid results.

See? Isn't that a pretty celebration table?

Then we all sat down and read the Pentecost story in The Jesus Storybook Bible. That is an amazing book; if you have children you should own it.

Tongues of fire!

Jonathan listened pretty intently.

We also said the baptismal vows from the Book of Common Prayer together.

Dinner was spaghetti (red sauce!) and we followed it up with spicy cinnamon candy. Yum.

I'm really happy with the way the evening turned out. It was low-key and yet celebratory and special. I think Jonathan enjoyed it. I'm already looking forward to doing this for Thomas' baptismal day next spring!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pentecost and baptismal celebrations

Pentecost is coming up! For us, this means celebrating both Pentecost and Jonathan's baptismal day. Because our children are baptized as infants, we want to celebrate their baptismal days each year. The day that they became part of the family of God should be a special remembrance and a celebration, not just something that happened back before they could remember it! We think that if we're intentional about celebrating each year, we'll be teaching our children to value their position as children of God and understand membership in the Body of Christ more and more as they grow. We also hope that by remembering baptismal days, our children will never feel like they "missed out" on adult baptism.

Here are the things I'm currently planning for our first celebration. Some are specifically related to Pentecost, and some specifically to Jonathan's baptism. Together I think it will be a really nice way to observe the day!

* Red rose petals scattered on the table (to represent flames)

* Wooden birds to hang over the table (to represent the Holy Spirit - although I'm having a really hard time finding any! Does anyone know where to get plain carved wooden birds in flight?)

* Cinnamon hearts for dessert (spicy food is traditional on Pentecost, but my kids do NOT like spicy food. This compromise seems like a good one, since I'm pretty sure they won't object to spicy candy!)

* A white candle on the table (to remind Jonathan of his baptismal candle)

* Re-reading the baptismal vows together as a family.

* Looking at pictures from Jonathan's baptism and talking about what happened that day.

The first three ideas came from Jessica, who wrote a great post about celebrating Pentecost at Homemaking Through the Church Year. Thanks, Jessica! You've made my job easier!

Anyone else have suggestions?